Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962

Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962

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by Frank Dikotter
     
 

"Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up to and overtake Britain in less than 15 years The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives." So opens Frank Dikötter's riveting, magnificently

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Overview

"Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up to and overtake Britain in less than 15 years The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives." So opens Frank Dikötter's riveting, magnificently detailed chronicle of an era in Chinese history much speculated about but never before fully documented because access to Communist Party archives has long been restricted to all but the most trusted historians. A new archive law has opened up thousands of central and provincial documents that "fundamentally change the way one can study the Maoist era." Dikötter makes clear, as nobody has before, that far from being the program that would lift the country among the world's superpowers and prove the power of Communism, as Mao imagined, the Great Leap Forward transformed the country in the other direction. It became the site not only of "one of the most deadly mass killings of human history,"--at least 45 million people were worked, starved, or beaten to death--but also of "the greatest demolition of real estate in human history," as up to one-third of all housing was turned into rubble). The experiment was a catastrophe for the natural world as well, as the land was savaged in the maniacal pursuit of steel and other industrial accomplishments. In a powerful meshing of exhaustive research in Chinese archives and narrative drive, Dikötter for the first time links up what happened in the corridors of power-the vicious backstabbing and bullying tactics that took place among party leaders-with the everyday experiences of ordinary people, giving voice to the dead and disenfranchised. His magisterial account recasts the history of the People's Republic of China.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802777683
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Publication date:
09/28/2010
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
904,371
Product dimensions:
9.78(w) x 11.30(h) x 1.43(d)

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface....................ix
Chronology....................xvii
Map....................xxii
1. Two Rivals....................3
2. The Bidding Starts....................10
3. Purging the Ranks....................15
4. Bugle Call....................25
5. Launching Sputniks....................34
6. Let the Shelling Begin....................43
7. The People's Communes....................47
8. Steel Fever....................56
9. Warning Signs....................67
10. Shopping Spree....................73
11. Dizzy with Success....................84
12. The End of Truth....................90
13. Repression....................100
14. The Sino-Soviet Rift....................104
15. Capitalist Grain....................108
16. Finding a Way Out....................116
17. Agriculture....................127
18. Industry....................145
19. Trade....................155
20. Housing....................163
21. Nature....................174
22. Feasting through Famine....................191
23. Wheeling and Dealing....................197
24. On the Sly....................208
25. 'Dear Chairman Mao'....................215
26. Robbers and Rebels....................224
27. Exodus....................230
28. Children....................245
29. Women....................255
30. The Elderly....................263
31. Accidents....................269
32. Disease....................274
33. The Gulag....................287
34. Violence....................292
35. Sites of Horror....................306
36. Cannibalism....................320
37. The Final Tally....................324
Epilogue....................335
Acknowledgements....................339
An Essay on the Sources....................341
Select Bibliography....................349
Notes....................363
Index....................405

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